1.) Helena makes an appearance on Monday Night Live with Peter:
Watching Monday night's CBC interview with Helena Guergis was, to put it mildly, painful. I did manage to make it all the way through and have picked out a few salient points that have been somewhat glossed over by the mainstream media.
Here's what I saw:
1.) I found it fascinating how they opened up with a discussion and viewing of the CATSA video of Helena's behaviour in the Charlottetown airport. Peter Mansbridge's comment that he had seen worse behaviour from the sweaty masses started off the interview on an interesting foot. Since the Charlottetown incident was the beginning of the end for her political career, if this incident is minimized or dismissed as being no big thing, the foundation of the CPC and media case against her is destroyed. This leads to the illusion that everything that has been said about her has been fabricated.
2.) When first asked if she used drugs she said "No, no, no" but then when pushed by Peter Mansbridge, she admitted that she had tried to smoke marijuana when someone tried to offer it to her when she was 14 years old, claims that she coughed and got nothing out of it. Her defence was another case of the old standby Bill Clinton "I didn't inhale" syndrome? Further along, you'll see how I manage to work Bill into her interview yet again.
3.) She claims that Rahim did not use her Parliamentary email or office for his business or personal affairs. She claims that he has his own accounts, emails etc. I'm not sure, but these emails from the CBC website seems to prove otherwise. She also claims that he promised her that he would not lobby but in the same breath, she tells Peter that she didn't know his business and what it did, yet, she still insists that he did not lobby. Either she knows about both his business and his lobbying or she doesn't. Either he lied to her or he didn't.
Here's an example of Rahim not using Helena's Parliamentary email:
...and here's another:
Yes, Helena is right, it does appear that he did have his own email address but he does seem to use her Parliamentary email too, well past the 2 week period after he got turfed as an MP by the voters of Edmonton-Strathcona when she claims he had to use her office to go through his confidential MP files. Since all members of Cabinet are bound for life by the Privy Council oath of secrecy, I would suggest that any access Rahim had to her email account could have easily led to a breaching of that oath.
4.) The Ontario Provincial Police charged Rahim Jaffer with cocaine possession, driving under the influence and speeding to which he pled guilty to careless driving. He told his wife that he had no idea how the cocaine ended up in his jacket and she believed him. Every warm-blooded Canadian male would love to have a wife that believed each and every story he told her. Rahim is one lucky guy.
5.) Helena claimed to be a compassionate person and reminded us all that she came from a good, Christian family, just in case we forgot, right around the time she burst into tears. Her very transparent appeal to the religious right who vote for the CPC reminds me of the media coverage during the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair when Bill was shown walking out of church with Hillary in one hand and a Bible in the other just to show us what an upstanding fellow he was. Was Helena trying to tell us that, "Sure, I married a Muslim, but hey, I'm still a card-carrying member of my local church so please vote for me next time out?".
6.) I noticed that Helena had trouble pronouncing the surname of Mr. Gillani and referred to him more than once as "the gentleman or the guy I went out to dinner with". She stumbled over his name the same way Stephen Harper stumbled over the name "Guergis" when he announced that she had "resigned" from Cabinet/been tossed under the bus. Did she take a page from the Harper "See, I don't really know the person in question that well because I can't pronounce their surname properly" handbook? They must have the same spinmeister/handler/talking point consultant.
She had the appearance of a wounded deer compared to her usual cocky, overly self-confident demeanour. While I am very suspicious of Mr. Harper's motives for tossing her under the bus, this interview did nothing to convince me that she deserved to be a Junior Minister in any government. I am sure that her appearance did convince some Canadians that she has ben wronged but not this Canadian. There are just too many inconsistencies in her story to make me a believer. I did find it interesting that when the CBC went back to the streets of her riding to talk to "the man on the street" this time, they broadcast commentary from those who were sympathetic to Helena. This is in sharp contrast to their earlier coverage where they broadcast only those who wanted her gone. Viewers never know how much media censorship goes into the broadcasting of these street-level interviews; the CBC could easily select only those interviewees that agree with the tone of whatever viewpoint they are taking on any given day.
2.) Changes to the Rules for Granting Pardons
Yesterday, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews announced changes to the National Parole Board's policy of granting pardons to convicted criminals. I agree that changes are much needed. Mr. Toews noted that this change was part of the Conservative government's "Tough on Crime" stance. What he forgot to mention was that the Conservatives have now formed the government for the past 4 years and had made no effort to change the policy of granting pardons until the Graham James 2007 pardon was uncovered by the media back in early April. Why wasn't the Harper government aware that Mr. James had been granted a pardon 3 years ago? Who was minding the store? If the media hadn't publicized Mr. James' pardon, would the Harper government have made any changes to the legislation? Not likely. This government tends to be reactive rather than proactive, preferring to wait to see what the public wants and the polls show before taking any action on an issue. So much for leadership.
My suspicion is that the Harper government acted so quickly on this issue once it actually reached their radar screen because they are afraid of the public backlash when Karla Homolka is eligible to apply for a pardon this summer. Reactive again? You betcha.